Mar 31, 2010

News: Pretzel Time - Free Soft Pretzel on April 26, 2010

Pretzel Time Free Pretzel on April 26
Pretzelmaker/Pretzel Time is once again hosting it's day-long National Pretzel Day Pretzel Giveaway on April 26, 2010

When: Monday, April, 26, 2010, all day.

Where: Participating Pretzelmaker/Pretzel Time locations. Store Locator

How: "Sing for your snack" i.e. sing a line from any song or just mention "National Pretzel Day" and get a free original soft pretzel.

Why?: It's a free pretzel! Everyone loves pretzels! They are soft, warm, and if there's too much salt you can just dust it off.

News: Dairy Queen - New Mini Size for Blizzards in August 2010

New Blizzard Mini Size
Starting this August, Dairy Queen will nationally rollout a new, smaller size of their Blizzard blended ice cream dessert: the Mini Blizzard. The Mini Blizzard will weigh (fill?) in at about 6 ounces or approximately half the size of a "small" 12-ounce Blizzard.

Pricing for the Mini Blizzard will range from $1.99 to $2.49 at most locations. Other sizes that Dairy Queen currently offers include the 12-ounce small, the 16-ounce medium, and the 21-ounce large.

Hooray for portion control and ice cream snacking!

The Asia Trip: Dunkin Donuts Taiwan

A display of heart- and square-shaped Dunkin' Donuts in Taiwan
Dunkin Donuts in Taiwan is definitely tailored to more Asian tastes.  For one, they use less sugar and the dough ingredients seem to vary.  Some of the more locally-tailored offerings include kiwi-filled jelly donuts, sweet potato donuts, and pineapple donuts.  They range in price from 25 to 30 NT each (about 75 cents to $1).

News: Corner Bakery Offers Free Two Free Coffees via Facebook

Connect at the Corner PictureFrom March 29th to April 26, 2010, fast casual chain, Corner Bakery Cafe is offering two free cups of their hand-roasted coffee to Facebook Fans who use their "Connect at the Corner" app to schedule a meet up with a friend (or family, random stranger, frenemy, etc.) at Corner Bakery.

It's a promotion encouraging people to actually meet up in person rather than online, via texting, phone, etc. Having been to Corner Bakery, it's actually a pretty nice place to meet up, as least, at the location near me anyway.

Mar 30, 2010

Review: Pizza Hut - Cajun Wings

Pizza Hut Cajun Wings in Box
Pizza Hut's Wing Street Cajun Wings are described as being "peppered with Cajun flavors from Louisiana." What the heck does that mean?  According to Wikipedia, "characteristic seasonings include parsley, bay leaf, "green onions" or scallions, and dried cayenne pepper."  They really didn't taste like any of that.

Mar 29, 2010

News: Burger King - New Breakfast Bowl and English Muffin

Burger King BK Breakfast Muffin Sandwich

Burger King today announced two additions to their breakfast menu: the BK Breakfast Bowl and BK Breakfast Muffin.

The BK Breakfast Bowl features roasted southwestern potatoes, grilled onions and peppers, scrambled eggs and sausage topped with a blend of three cheeses and a smoky cheese sauce and has a suggested price of $2.79.

The BK Breakfast Muffin is a BK Breakfast Value Menu item priced at $1 and features a sausage patty, egg, and a slice of melted American cheese sandwiched between two halves of a freshly-baked English muffin.

Review: McDonald's - Hamburger

McDonald's Hamburger in its wrapper
The burger that spawned the house that Ray built, McDonald's Hamburger is a simple grilled hamburger patty seasoned with salt and pepper sandwiched in a plain soft, toasted bun with ketchup, mustard, a sprinkling diced onions, and a couple of pickle slices for 89 cents. Back in 1955, you could buy a McDonald's hamburger from Mr. Kroc himself for 15 cents.

Mar 27, 2010

What's on the Menu: McDonald's Switzerland

McDonald's Switzerland menu
This edition of What's on the Menu takes us to the land of neutrality, precision time pieces, and most importantly, chocolate!  Welcome to McDonald's Switzerland!

Mar 26, 2010

News: Subway Serves Breakfast Starting April 5, 2010

Subway Breakfast offerings
Subway Sandwiches formally throws its hat into the fast food breakfast arena starting April 5, 2010 when it begins serving breakfast at over 25,000 locations in North America.

Review: Jack in the Box - Chicken Sandwich

Jack in the Box Chicken Sandwich
Jack in the Box's value menu Chicken Sandwich features a breaded chicken patty, lettuce and mayo onion sauce on a regular Jack in the Box bun for $1.

Mar 25, 2010

Review: El Pollo Loco - Grilled Chicken Nachos

El Pollo Loco's Grilled Chicken Nachos features chopped boneless chicken breast, refried beans, a Jack & poblano queso sauce, pico de gallo salsa, real guacamole, sour cream, shredded Jack and Cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeno peppers over a bed of tortilla chips for $5.29.

News: Carl's Jr. Introduces New Banana Chocolate Chip Shake

The latest additions to Carl's Jr.'s merry-go-round of limited-time shakes, and a mouthful to say, are the new Banana Chocolate Chip Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes and Malts.

The shakes feature hand-scooped ice cream, milk, banana cream syrup, and chocolate flakes, blended together and topped with whipped topping.  The malts add malt powder to the mix.

Both items have a suggested retail price of $2.89 for a 16-ounce serving and are served in a clear plastic cup with a matching clear plastic domed lid.

Mar 24, 2010

News: Whataburger Gives Free Milk with Cookies

Milk and Cookies!  Texas-based fast food chain Whataburger is promoting their new Chocolate Chunk and Sugar cookies by offering free milk when you buy one of the aforementioned cookies.

When?: March 30 & 31 from 11am to 8pm

Where?: All Whataburgers. Whataburger Store Locator

Why?: You are the Cookie Monster and you like milk and cookies! Nom Nom Nom!  Or, you just happen to be at Whataburger that day.  The cookies are 79 cents each (price may vary).

The Asia Trip: KFC Taiwan - Latte

Yes, while in Taiwan, I didn't go to Starbucks for coffee but I did pick up a latte at KFC Taiwan for 54 NT ($1.70).  That's right just like McDonald's, KFC in Taiwan sells premium coffee beverages dispensed out of a superautomatic espresso machine.

News: Carl's Jr. Brings Back the Big Country Burrito

Carl's Jr announced today the return of the Big Country Burrito which was originally introduced in October 2008.  The Big Country Burrito features basically your entire American-style breakfast wrapped up burrito-style in a flour tortilla. That means eggs, crumbled bacon and sausage, diced ham, shredded cheddar cheese, hash rounds and a lots of sausage gravy.

Mar 23, 2010

News: Baskin Robbins - 31 Cent Scoop Night on April 28, 2010

Not as catchy as Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day, Baskin Robbins 31 Cent Scoop Night is for a good cause: fire fighters!

When: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 5 pm to 10 pm

Where: Participating Baskin Robbins nationwide.  Baskin Robbins Store Locator

Why?: Because fire fighters stop you and your house from burning! And rescue kitties from trees!

Review: Jack in the Box - Mini Churros

Inside a bag of Jack in the Box Mini Churros.

Jack in the Box's Mini Churros takes your typical churro, chops it into bite-sized bits, and pipes a line of melted, gooey cinnamon sugar through the middle.

A small bag of five churros came out to $1.

Mar 22, 2010

News: Starbucks Testing Blueberry Waffles

Starbucks is testing blueberry waffles in the Denver market.  According to a commenter on Starbucks Gossip, "The waffles are put into the warmer, and served with a small container of syrup. They are a little bit thicker than an Eggo waffle and taste "ok" (definitely taste the blueberries!), but it's not worth the $2.50 for one waffle."

Darn.  I was hoping for some freshly-made Belgian waffles like they have at Starbucks in Singapore.  Mmmmmmm... fresh waffles... I don't that would ever fly here in the States though, too time-consuming for Starbucks I think.  I would love to be proven wrong though.

Review: Chick-fil-A - Chick-n-Minis

I've always wanted to try Chick-fil-A's Chick-n-Minis but never had a chance to until recently because: a) I don't live near Chick-fil-A and b) It's only served for breakfast!  Chick-n-Minis are basically your run-of-the-mill Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets stuffed inside honey butter coated mini-yeast rolls.  They are four for $2.99.

Mar 21, 2010

Local Review: Top Pot Donuts - Seattle, WA

I originally came across Top Pot Donuts at my local Starbucks where they sometimes have Top Pot old-fashioned buttermilk donuts on display for $1.75 a pop.  They tasted pretty good and I wondered how they would be fresh.  So when my friend asked me if I wanted anything from Seattle, I asked for some Top Pot Donuts and got a whole dozen!

Mar 20, 2010

What's on the Menu: McDonald's Chile

This wonderful edition of What's on the Menu takes us to the other America and the republic of Chile!  No hablo espanol?  Me neither!  Let's see what's featured at McDonald's Chile!
"El Placer del Momento" translates into something like "pleasure of the moment" i.e. the current featured burger.  The Bacon Mediterraeo features It is composed of "specially prepared bread, bacon, prime beef, tomato and mayonnaise."  I'm going to guess prime beef is a higher grade of beef like Angus.  I'm not sure how that is Mediterranean... maybe it's a Mediterranean-style roll?  Is there such a thing?  Sorry, I'm just thinking "Pita. Pita. Pita..."  750 Chile Peso is the equivalent of ~$1.40.

Mar 19, 2010

Review: Ben & Jerry's - Half Baked Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Half Baked is so named because it's half baked fudge brownies and half chocolate chip cookie dough.  It's also half vanilla and half chocolate ice cream. (Wait... that doesn't add up...)  Actually, it seems more like 3/4th chocolate and 1/4 vanilla to me.  With Free Cone Day coming up next Tuesday, I have been furiously stuffing my face with only the best Ben & Jerry's pints to review.  I bought this pint at Fresh & Easy for $2.99 regular price.

Review: Jack in the Box - Natural Cut Fries

So I went to Jack in the Box intending to try their new fries but I failed horribly; my local Jack in the Box only had the old fries.  So here's my take on the outgoing Jack in the Box Natural Cut Fries which are billed as "lightly-salted, skin-on" fries and are sold in small, medium, and large sizes for: $1.39, $1.79, and $1.99 respectively.

Mar 18, 2010

Review: Quizno's - Roast Beef and Cheddar Sub

Quiznos' Roast Beef and Cheddar Deli Sub is part of their Everyday Value Deli Subs line and is currently sold for $5 for a large sandwich which is comparable to Subway's "$5 Footlongs" promotion.  The Roast Beef and Cheddar Sub features roast beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo toasted on your choice of artisan bread: Italian White, 9 Grain Artisan Wheat, Rosemary Parmesan, or Italian Herb.

Mar 17, 2010

News: Starbucks Launching Customizable Frappuccinos in May

The WSJ reports that Starbucks is formally launching the "however-you-want-it" Frappuccino beginning in early May (just in time for the summer) in the U.S. and Canada.  Basically, you'll be able to customize your Frappuccino like you can any other drink on the Starbucks menu: soy milk, decaf, light syrup, etc.

This is a surprise to me; I thought you could always customize your Frappuccino.

Doesn't Starbucks have a longstanding policy of accommodating any reasonable customer requests in regards to drink orders?  I guess that is all "unofficial."  Well, starting May, it's official.  Until then, you can continue to "unofficially" customize your Frappuccino however you like.

News: Taco Bell Testing "Take Home Taco Bar"

Taco Bell is testing a Take Home Taco Bar out in Louisville, KY according to QSRWeb.  The take home family meal features two trays with a total of six compartments containing: seasoned ground beef, refried beans, seasoned rice, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream and shredded cheese.  The meal also comes with salsa, tortilla chips, and 10 crunchy or soft tacos.

The price on the Take Home Taco Bar is $14.99 which is a little bit more buying 10 Taco Supremes depending on your locale.

News: McDonald's Testing McBistro Chicken Sandwich

According to the Baltimore Sun, McDonald's is testing a chicken sandwich called the McBistro in the Omaha, Albuquerque, and the Greater Baltimore area.

The McBistro is being marketed as a bit of a choose-your-own premium chicken sandwich and features your choice of crispy or grilled chicken breast, a "thick slice" of tomato, leaf lettuce, white Cheddar cheese, and your choice of sauce in buttermilk ranch, chipotle BBQ, or honey mustard (i.e. the same sauces available for McDonald's Chicken Selects) on a "bakery-style" bun.  The tag they're going with is "Choose deliciously."

The Asia Trip: KFC Taiwan - Twister

After checking out Taipei 101 while it was still the tallest building in the world, I decided to try KFC Taiwan to make up for missing out on KFC Japan.  You can see the poster above for some of the more interesting items on the menu.  Since those interesting items also happened to be seafood, I chose to go the value route...

Mar 16, 2010

Review: Pizza Hut - Buffalo Wings

Taking advantage of Pizza Hut's 50 Cent Wing Wednesday promotion, I tried their Boneless Buffalo Wings which, as far as I can tell, are not wings at all, but breaded breast pieces doused in buffalo sauce.  They're normally eight "wings" for $6.99 but at 50 cent a wing, it came out to $4.

News: Jack in the Box Testing Oven Bakes

Jack in the Box is testing a new item called an Oven Bake in the Austin, TX area only.  Jack in the Box's Oven Bake comes in four varieties: Philly Cheesesteak and Chicken Spinach & Cheese for later in the day and Egg, Potato, & Bacon and Italian Sausage & Egg for breakfast. All four are rolled up in a crust and baked. They seem a bit like a calzone but rolled up.

Mar 15, 2010

News: Quiznos - New Breakfast Items for Convenience Stores

Quiznos announced today, the rollout of their new breakfast menu for their 175 convenience store locations nationwide (I didn't even know Quiznos had convenience store locations...)  Is this a preface to regular Quiznos locations entering the breakfast market?  Maybe.  Breakfast at convenience store markets can easily serve as a test bed for a more widespread breakfast offering.

The new breakfast menu includes:
  • Giant Cinnamon Roll - fresh from the oven and topped with creamy caramel icing.
  • Country Sausage and Egg Biscuit - the fast food breakfast standard: sausage patty and egg on a flaky biscuit.
  • Breakfast Sammies - various combinations of meats, cheeses, and eggs on Quizno's mini-flatbreads.
  • Breakfast Subs - various combinations of meats, cheeses, and eggs on Quizno's trademark toasted breads.
No word on pricing that I know of yet.

Review: In-N-Out - Secret Menu - Protein Style

Another "secret" menu item at In N Out, "Protein Style" means to get a burger without carbs (i.e. the bun), instead you get a shell of iceburg lettuce around your burger.  So a Double Double "Protein Style" is two all-beef hamburger patties, two slices of American cheese, onions, tomatoes, and "spread" (In N Out's version of Thousand Island) wrapped in hand-leafed lettuce.  It will run you the same as a regular Double Double at $2.99.

Mar 14, 2010

Review: Ben & Jerry's - Mint Chocolate Cookie

Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie is like your standard Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream but with cookies instead of chips and minus the green food coloring. My local Fresh & Easy doesn't carry it so I think it's one of the less common Ben & Jerry's flavors but occasionally I find it on sale at Ralph's or Albertson's at two for $5, otherwise I think it's close to $4.

Review: Ben & Jerry's - Chunky Monkey

A standby favorite of mine, the aptly-named Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey features banana ice cream as the base and walnut pieces and fudge chunks as the finish.  My local Fresh & Easy carries it for a reasonable $2.99 but occasionally I find it on sale at Ralph's or Albertson's at two for $5.

Review: Ben & Jerry's - Americone Dream

Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream features vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl and yes, I am just typing what it says on the picture above.  I get my Ben & Jerry's for $2.99 at Fresh & Easy or when it's on sale at a major supermarket for two for $5.

Mar 13, 2010

What's on the Menu: McDonald's France

What's on the Menu takes a look at feature items on the menu at McDonald's in other countries to see how American fast food has adapted itself to local tastes. Why McDonald's? It works for the Big Mac index and that's good enough for me.

Parlez vous francais? Yeah, me neither but that didn't stop me from plumbing the McDonald's France website to see how the country known for haute cuisine eats quickly.  First up!  Le P'tit Moutarde!

Mar 12, 2010

Review: KFC - Hot Wings

KFC Hot Wings feature wing sections lightly breaded in seasonings and deep-fried until crisp.  They are normally six for $3.49 but I usually use a coupon to get 20 Hot Wings for $9.99 which comes out to the same 50 cent a wing as Pizza Hut's Wing Wednesdays.  You can also get them sauced in four varieties: Honey BBQ, Fiery Buffalo, Sweet 'n Spicy, and Tangy Teriyaki.

Update 1/1/11: The current KFC promotion on Hot Wings is $3 for 5 or $10 for 20 for a limited-time only (no coupon needed)

Mar 11, 2010

Review: McDonald's - Filet-O-Fish

McDonald's Filet-O-Fish features a deep-fried breaded fish patty, a half a slice of American cheese, and tartar sauce on a steamed McDonald's bun which it shares in common with McDonald's Southern Style Chicken Sandwich.  It reminds me a lot of the fish sandwiches served in my elementary school cafeteria back in the day.

McDonald's is currently running its annual Filet-O-Fish Fridays promotion during Lent where you can get one for $1.29.  Other fast food restaurants have similar options during Lent.

Mar 10, 2010

Review: Panda Express - Honey Walnut Shrimp

Panda Express's new Honey Walnut Shrimp features tempura battered shrimp, honey sauce, and glazed walnuts and is available as an individual entree for $3.90 or as part of their 2- or 3-entree plates for an upcharge of $1.00.

The Asia Trip: NTU Foodcourt - Chicken Sandwich

While in Taiwan, I ended up eating at the National Taiwan University (NTU) Food Court.  While perusing the food court options, I walked into a bakery and saw these babies:
Chicken sandwiches!  A whole tray of them!  At 35 NT or about $1.10, the price puts it squarely in the value-priced chicken sandwich bracket.  So how does it compare?  It stands head and shoulders over the fast food value-priced entrants over here and it's easy to explain why...

Mar 9, 2010

News: Pinkberry - Free Mini Mango Pinkberry on March 12, 2010

Pinkberry is promoting their new Mango-flavored frozen yogurt by giving away free mini-sized cups of Mango frozen yogurt with toppings.

Dubbed the "Mad About Mango Happy Hour," the giveaway will take place this upcoming Friday, March 12, 2010 from 5pm to 9pm.  Pinkberry will also be giving away gift cards and prizes via trivia.

Pinkberry Store Locator

Review: In-N-Out - Secret Menu - French Fries Well Done

In-N-Out's Well Done French Fries.

In-N-Out French fries are made in house from fresh Kennebec potatoes and only come in one size for $1.29.
 What some customers don't know is that In-N-Out will cook their fries to whatever doneness you like.  I like to get mine "well" or "well done."

Mar 8, 2010

News: Jack in the Box - New French Fries

Today, fast food chain Jack in the Box announced that starting this month they are introducing new french fries in their restaurants.  The new fries were tested with "crispness," "flavor," and "texture" in mind.  Accordingly, the new fries should have "a crispier outside texture that enhances the potato flavor and helps them retain temperature."

The fries will be available (like most fast food fries) in small, medium, and large sizes, priced at the same $1.39, $1.79, and $1.99 respectively.  The new fries are replacing Jack in the Box's Natural Cut fries.

Jack in the Box Restaurant Locator

Review: Wendy's Crispy Chicken Deluxe

Wendy's Crispy Chicken Deluxe is currently available with a small order of french fries and small soda for $2.99 as part of their $2.99 Deluxe Value Meals.  The Crispy Chicken Deluxe features a ground white-meat chicken patty, two slices of thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, a slice of American cheese, mayo, a leaf of lettuce, and a slice of tomato.

Mar 7, 2010

Local Review: St. Honore's - Fromage - Costa Mesa

This curiously named dessert came from the same bakery that I bought my delectable loaf of Boloniya Bread from: St. Honore's at the Costa Mesa Mitsuwa Supermarket.  The display label before the cake simply read "Fromage" (French for "cheese") piquing my curiosity and leading me to drop the $4 or so dollars to buy the thing.

Mar 5, 2010

News: Panda Express - Free Honey Walnut Shrimp on March 10, 2010

In order to promote and launch their new Honey Walnut Shrimp, Panda Express is taking to Facebook to offer this coupon for a free Honey Walnut Shrimp Entree good only on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at participating locations.

Panda Express's Honey Walnut Shrimp features tempura shrimp, honey sauce, and glazed walnuts tossed together in a hot wok.  The regular price of a single entree of Honey Walnut Shrimp is $3.90.  The entree will be available starting on the same Wednesday, March 10, 2010.

Panda Express Store Locator

News: Taco Bell - New Pacific Shrimp Taco

Taco Bell announced today, a Friday during Lent (coincidence? I think not!), their Pacific Shrimp Taco featuring a flour tortilla folded around exactly six marinated shrimp, shredded lettuce, Fiesta Salsa (a blend of diced white onions, tomatoes, and cilantro) and avocado ranch sauce.

The Pacific Shrimp Taco clocks in at a reasonable 180 calories and sells for $2.79.  It will be available until April 11th.

Taco Bell Store Locator

Review: Pizza Hut - Pepperoni Pan Pizza

Pizza Hut's Pan Pizza is the signature dish for the world's largest pizza chain.  It features a thick-crust pizza cooked in a metal tin which gives it a crispy, greasy shell.  I got a $5.99 Large Pepperoni Pan Pizza as a carryout special because the sister-in-law was feeling nostalgic and hadn't eaten it in a long time.  Though, under the current big promotion, you can get any size, any toppings, any crust pizza for $10.

Mar 4, 2010

Review: KFC - Boneless Filet

A new item on KFC's menu, the new Boneless Filet is a boneless chicken breast and comes in Grilled or Original Recipe (update: looks like they are delaying the Grilled version for a later date... well, unless the Boneless Filet does badly anyway).  It's served in a french-fry-holder-like sleeve so can keep your hands clean and is currently available in the new Boneless Filet Box for $5 but not individually (update: they are available at most locations individually at a suggested price of $1.99. I checked with another local KFC and they are selling it for $2.39.).